WMNF’s White Liberal Rulers Attack Straight Talk, Voice of the African Working Class

The following is a presentation made by Chairman Omali Yeshitela on January 30, 2005 at a regular weekly meeting of the African People’s Socialist Party at the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, Florida.

I just want to talk about this WMNF issue from a couple of different angles. There is a growing attack on the right for people to speak out and challenge imperialism. Even the white ruling class itself, often engages in self-censorship. They won’t say anything that could rock the boat.

You’ve seen reports on memos sent out by the people who run CNN saying that if you say anything at all about the horrors that U.S. imperialists are committing against the Iraqi people, then you’ve got to balance that out by saying something bad about what the Iraqis are doing as well. The objective is to have a monopoly on what can be said, who says it, who gets heard and who doesn’t get heard.

It becomes increasingly important that this happens, because this foul, rotten social system that we live in is experiencing a tremendous crisis.

In this meeting you heard about the Pierce family who just happened to be here because they can’t even go and spend their money at a skating rink without being mistreated and having one of their children thrown in jail. You heard about 16-year-old Johnny Union who has spent the last 11 or so years in prison for defending himself and his brothers from white nationalist attackers.

We didn’t plan to talk about them for this meeting, but this is stuff that happens in our community every day. The humiliation of black people is something that happens every day. It’s not just Africans, but its oppressed peoples around the world.

As quiet as it’s kept, we live in a country that is occupied territory, but the fact that somebody stole this land and has native people living in concentration camps called reservations right now doesn’t even get talked about.

Nobody even speaks about a damn Indian. It doesn’t even enter the discussion, but we demand that you deal with the oppressed.

Actually, our objective is to speak to the oppressed. Anybody else who listens to us just happens to be peaking over our shoulders.

We’re at a place where it’s clear to us that the issue is no longer to explain this reality, but to change it. It’s not some abstract discussion that we’re involved in as African people.

We live in a country where 12 percent of African men are locked up in a damn prison, and we’ve got liberals who will explain this reality as having something to do with the criminality of our community. We’re supposed to act like we have no history with this country. We’re supposed to act like slavery didn’t happen. Like somehow we popped up in America under a turnip green leaf.

They kidnapped millions and millions of Africans. Maybe 200 million black people died in the process of getting here, and we’re supposed to act like it didn’t happen. We’re supposed to act like there is no relationship between how we live right now and what white power has done to us, not only here, but in Africa as well.

That’s what Rob Lorei and his ilk at WMNF would have us to believe, but I’ll be damned if we’ll have that type of discussion.

We have no illusions about the relationship we have to America. And the fact is that this attempt by liberals to stifle our ability to have this discussion is a reflection of the crisis of imperialism, which is being caused by oppressed people everywhere in the world fighting back.

As quiet as it’s kept, that’s what 9-11 was all about if George Bush didn’t do it. People everywhere are tired of being messed over.

White liberals unite with imperialism to maintain pedestal of oppression

So there is a crisis, and WMNF is not immune to this crisis. All these people who can consciously align themselves with imperialism and the need for it to continue to exist experience this crisis.

So, what happens is that when Connie Burton says, “there is a battalion of police that’s occupying the African community, 47 black men just got arrested in Robles Park, there are tanks in our community right now, and somebody needs to take a stand around it,” Lorei doesn’t want to hear that.

They don’t want to hear that discussion because that’s not what we’re supposed to talk about. They didn’t mind it too much when Connie was on the show for a long time complaining.

They don’t mind Negroes complaining. In fact, they like that, because this whole concept of struggle against racism and the struggle for integration is something that reinforces this arrogant imperial attitude that exists within the white community of America and the world. It’s as if they say, “As much as we’ve done to them, they still want to be with us. No matter how much we rape and terrorize them every day, they still want to be with us.

“Despite the fact that they have a lifespan that is seven years less than ours, they still want to be with us. Despite the fact that we pay them, on average, 54 cents to every dollar that white folks get, they still want to be with us.

“Despite the humiliation and indignities that we impose on them and their children everyday in the schools they still want to be with us . Who in the hell must we be?”

As long as we complain that’s alright, but at the juncture that we have a philosophy, then there is a problem.

“It emerged when [Connie Burton] said, ‘You don’t talk for me. I have found my own voice. I have found an analysis that sums up this reality that we are confronted with.’”

You don’t even have to think about it. It’s just part of the cultural and ideological fabric, of this country. It is an assumption that everybody wants to be with white folk. Well, I’m arrogant enough to say, “It ain’t so!”

That’s their problem with Connie — the fact that she represents a philosophy. As long as we complain that’s alright, but at the juncture that we have a philosophy, then there is a problem.

It emerged when she said, “You don’t talk for me. I have found my voice. I have found an analysis that sums up this reality that we are confronted with.” That’s the fundamental problem.

We had people from all over the world on that radio show. We had the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations. When they pushed that American plane down and the media was running all of this madness here, we had the ambassador on Straight Talk.

We’ve talked to people in Palestine. Even as the illegitimate Israeli State was attacking the Palestinians and murdering their people, we had some of them on the radio from inside Palestine talking about what was happening right there on the ground.

Oppressed people want to be free, and we stand on the side of the oppressed. There’s no question about it. We don’t kind of like the oppressed and the oppressor, too. We stand flatly with the oppressed, and that’s a problem.

It’s a problem that we believe in self-determination for African people. We believe that African people are an oppressed people. We are the nation that was captured and dispersed around the world, and the solution for our problem is to recapture our resources, recapture our identity, and recapture our land and wealth for ourselves. That’s what we believe in.

We believe that America is a predator State. It was born as a predator State. It has never not been a predator State. It was born killing Indians and it was built off the enslaved labor of African people. That’s what we believe, and so we say it.

Now, a lot of people have a problem with that. Some people who are Africans don’t believe that, and that’s cool. But it’s a community radio station.

When Rob Lorei comes on, I turn it off. When the hillbilly music comes on, I turn it off. You understand?

When the Zionist show comes on, I turn it off. And if they don’t like Connie’s show they can turn it off, too.

That’s what freedom of speech is supposed to be about. If it wasn’t a good show, the people wouldn’t pay to hear it. People pay thousands in pledges to hear it because that’s what they want to hear.

I want to be clear on this. The attack here is not simply an attack on Connie’s right to speak. It’s about the right for everybody else to hear what the hell she’s got to say.

Lorei needs to say, I don’t believe in what ya’ll are saying. He should just say that. I’ve got enough courage to say that. That nasty stuff that he talks about — that stinking, foul, Democratic Party stuff that covers up for oppression — I wouldn’t listen to it with somebody else’s ears!

If you don’t like it, just say you don’t like it, and keep on stepping. But he’s the white boss, he’s master, he’s the white man. He’s in power, and he cuts you off. And then he picks his negroes — the ones who he wants to be heard.

WMNF’s white liberal bosses oppose imperialist tactics but they support imperialism

The problem that we have is that Lorei just can’t say, “I love America, and I support imperialism.”

He’s never condemned imperialism. There are people in this room who support imperialism. That’s your right — up to the time we take power. That right is gone after that juncture.

But, what Lorei is opposed to is imperialist tactics. He is opposed to certain imperialist policies, but not to imperialism itself. That’s the fundamental problem.

We are opposed to imperialism. We are opposed to the predatory nature of the United States government. It ain’t never done nothing right. It can’t do nothing right. I don’t care.

If you say you are going into Iraq, you don’t even have to give me the details. I’m opposed to it already. I’ll check up on why you’re doing it later. You said you want to go to Sudan and save the black people, hell save the black people in Robles Park first!

I’m supposed to believe you love us in Sudan and hate us here. You’re going killing people, taking their land and resources for the oil, and tell me you’re setting up a democratic process for them to vote.

You came to office in the first place because you stole the black vote in the U.S., and now I’m supposed to think that you’re doing something right in Iraq?!

We oppose imperialism, and that’s the thing that distinguishes us. We think imperialism needs to be rooted out from the planet earth. It needs to be wiped out, and all imperialists needs to pay the prices that they owe the peoples of the world.

We have no illusions about this. I saw an email by this person who said he was glad to see “Straight Talk” off the air, and he was saying how wonderful WMNF is. He said “Straight Talk” should get on board with the rest of them — fighting against what they call “fascism.”

“You are living in a country that is drenched in blood, black blood, red blood, the blood of the oppressed peoples, and you’re talkin’ about you’re a pacifist and I have to be one, too. When you give back everything that has come as a consequence of all the violence that America has imposed on us then I’ll consider the question. Up until then, don’t talk to me about it.”

Not fighting against what happened to Mr. Pierce here, or what happened to Johnny Union, or what happened to Black people in Robles Park, but some “fascism” that he recognizes. Something that’s going to affect his lily white life. Right?

So he said, “Join us. Get on board.” He asked, “What do you want, just a WFLA?”

Well hell, doesn’t he know that he’s in the same camp as WFLA? The positions of WFLA and WMNF about the Uhuru Movement are the same. There is no difference in your position, so you’re not asking for much of a choice when you put it that way.

I like WFLA better. I listen to people on WFLA because they are honest with their opposition to the freedom of my people. They make no pretensions about it.

They say right up front, “Get rid of the niggers.” So I want to hear what they’re saying and how they’re going to do it, so I can get ready for it.

WMNF won’t say it. WFLA will say, “I don’t like Otis Anthony, I don’t like Omali Yeshitela. I don’t like none of them niggers.” But see WMNF covers its ass by loving black people who are opposed to the struggle to liberate black people. They have their public people who they have as a public face that they can put forward and say, “See how much we love ya’ll?”

WMNF creates designer law similar to those the State always creates to attack Africans

WMNF’s staff had a special meeting to come up with a special law that says organizations can’t have shows, and this law was created specifically targeting Connie Burton and Straight Talk. The thing that is so offensive about it is that it ain’t even original. We’ve been living with designer laws made just for us since we first met ya’ll.

That’s what Weed and Seed is. That’s what “One Strike” is. Clinton made that law for Connie Burton and all the black people in the housing projects.

At least he ought to be original. This stuff is so transparent, but that’s the thing about the arrogance of a certain kind of power.

I remember in Indianapolis, there was a young African who was in just a pair of short pants and tennis shoes who was chased down by the police. The police said that when they captured him they searched him down and everything, and then they put him in the car and handcuffed him behind his back.

When they got to the police station they said that he’d run several blocks from the police but that he had a gun in his sneaker. So he supposedly got the gun out of his sneaker — while handcuffed in the back seat of the car — and shot himself in the head. That’s how he ended up dead.

Now that’s the arrogance of power. It doesn’t have to make sense. That’s what they are doing at WMNF. Plus they know that there are enough people who listen to that show who hate black liberation, who love imperialism, who love America more than they love anything else. Well, we have no illusions about America, and there are other people who have no illusions about America.

They’d like to talk about how righteous they are. Because they are like Rodney King, “Can’t we just all get along?” “You guys are making trouble, you’re rocking the boat and stuff. Everybody just wants to live happily with each other.”

They say this kind of nonsense, while the truth of the matter is that all the people do want to live in harmony with each other. Nobody wants to be at each other’s throats, etc. Everybody, if given an opportunity, would live in peace and harmony. But there is imperialism. And the imperialists have weapons at their command. And the most powerful weapon they have is this instrument that is called the State.

The State is organized violence. It’s organized coercion. It is the police department, the courts, the military.

It’s the army that’s now extending its reach into places like Iraq. With more than 700 U.S. military bases stretched across the world, this is the extension of imperial white power, even from America.

In our communities, there’s the State instrument known as the police. They run the schools and every damn thing. They have control over our lives. And somebody wants to pretend that we have the problems we’ve got because white people and black people just don’t like each other. It ain’t hardly about that.

Our struggle is to get rid of this menace, this terrorist organization that dominates our lives that keeps us from being free. Our struggle is to eradicate this illegal colonial State power from our lives so that we can have our own power over our own lives; so that we can guarantee our own children a future.

Rob Lorei and a lot of folks are opposed to that, and so they fight for this thing that they have.

Of course, I don’t have to say too much more about this whole issue about WMNF saying that organizations or groups shouldn’t have shows. Believe me, they would know the difference if that were an Uhuru show. They would know the difference.

Here is the thing that is offensive though. They play on the fact that the Uhuru Movement is about national liberation of African people, that’s aligned with all the other oppressed people around the world to change this reality. Because of this, and especially because of its association with Africa, it is automatically “illegitimate.”

“WMNF won’t say it. WFLA will say, “I don’t like Otis Anthony, I don’t like Omali Yeshitela. I don’t like none of them niggers.” But see WMNF covers its ass by loving black people who are opposed to the struggle to liberate black people.”

Lorei doesn’t have to explain that he’s got all these democrats on the show all the time. He doesn’t have to explain that because the Democratic Party is a legitimate thing.

I was listening to Otis Anthony, the guy who they put behind us in setting us up for this thing that just happened now, and he says, “Oh, we’re in trouble,” talking about the Democratic Party. “When are we gonna overturn this?” He goes on about the Democratic Party this and the Democratic Party that.

Why is it alright that the Democratic Party has shows? Why is it alright for John Kerry to have a show, to have henchmen on the show and Africans can not do that? Who makes that determination?

It gets made by a lily-white authority associated with that thing and they’re defending their whiteness, their white privilege, with every resource that they’ve got. So that’s what it’s about.

WMNF claim that “Straight Talk” promoted violence is nonsense

They claim that “Straight Talk” was promoting violence, and that is nonsense. The promotion of violence is the stuff that they are doing.

Now I’m not a pacifist, and I don’t’ think I like pacifists to tell you the truth. That’s just me.

You be one if you want to. That’s your business, but don’t tell me I have to be a pacifist. Don’t tell me that I have to be disarmed in the face of everything that imperialism is bringing to me.

Don’t tell me that I have to be a pacifist when you live in a country that was taken with the worst kind of violence against indigenous people. My presence here has come as a consequence of the worst kind of violence.

You are living in a country that is drenched in blood, black blood, red blood, the blood of the oppressed peoples, and you’re talkin’ about you’re a pacifist and I have to be one, too. When you give back everything that has come as a consequence of all the violence that America has imposed on us then I’ll consider the question. Until then, don’t talk to me about it.

I don’t try to defend the fact that I’m not a pacifist, but they are lying when they say that we promote violence on the show.

I want to say this. You have to fight for democracy. It is a crucial question. I believe in the struggle for democracy but not democracy as an end unto itself.

You see, when you talk about democracy you’re just talking about a form of the State. All the “democracy” that we have come to learn about from Europe and from European imperialism, has been a democracy that’s based on slavery.

There was the “great Greek democracy” where only 20 percent of the people were free and 80 percent of the people were slaves. The democracy of America where you write it up on a constitution and at the same time say that Africans were three-fifths of a person and women had no rights at all. That’s your damn democracy, and I want nothing to do with it.

When we take this power that we’re going to have to take in order to be free, then we’ll show you what real democracy is — democracy for the majority of the people who live on this earth where we can be free and exercise our rights to exist and our right to have a future.

We can’t have an illusion about what country we’re living in and what system we are living in. Bourgeois rule, capitalist rule, is a dictatorship of the white ruling class. It is nothing other than that.

It is a dictatorship that has its foundation on stolen land and stolen labor. It rests upon that foundation.

You talk about freedom in this country, founded as it was founded, where the people who have suffered the greatest brunt of the terror still know no freedom and no peace. Still, the so-called Indians are living in these reservations with a lifespan in the 40’s right now.

You want to talk like you know about freedom. Ain’t no freedom for the vast majority of oppressed peoples.

Unfortunately, what America has done is defined freedom in such a fashion that freedom for some comes at the expense of freedom for the rest of us. Unfortunately, there are people who accept this freedom for themselves at the expense of freedom for the rest of us.

Connie ain’t like that. They offered her $50,000. She said, “I won’t take that deal.” I wish the majority of white folks were like that. Connie has been with me in one of the highest places in the city of St. Petersburg, where you could see the whole bay area, and a rich white man offered me $50,000 right there.

But the question is what do we stand for? I’ll tell you what it is that I stand for. It is freedom. It is genuine freedom.

I think we have to fight for democracy. We have to fight not only for the reinstatement of Connie, but we have to get rid of those thugs who control that station.

We have to get rid of the lily-white complexion of that station. We’ve got to get rid of the situation where you got white people playing the blues, white people playing reggae, white people doing jazz.

The white expropriation of African culture is a crime, and they do it in the name of “diversity.” Well, I want to give them some diversity. I think that we have to make a serious struggle to change that thing and take it over.

Uhuru!

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